Credit Atsushi Nishijima/Disney, via Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Oprah Winfrey pushing hard on the promotional circuit. Pent-up demand for a PG-rated Disney film. The first movie in four years from a filmmaker heralded as a visionary. A production and marketing budget of at least $150 million.
“A Wrinkle in Time” (Disney), directed by Ava DuVernay, the first African-American woman at the helm of a big-budget studio film, and starring a diverse ensemble cast led by Ms. Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon, had everything going for it. But, as often happens in Hollywood, the sum added up to less than its parts. “A Wrinkle in Time” arrived to a lackluster $33.3 million in ticket sales at 3,980 theaters in North America over the weekend.
That turnout placed it well behind Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” (Disney), which collected about $41.1 million in its fourth weekend, for a new domestic total of $562 million, according to comScore, which compiles box office data. After a sturdy debut in China over the weekend, “Black Panther” crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide, shattering a myth about the overseas viability of movies rooted in black culture.
To avoid going down as a misfire, “A Wrinkle in Time” — primarily aimed at children ages 8 to 14 — must attract large numbers of families in the coming weeks, when schools begin spring breaks. However, Ms. DuVernay’s movie, adapted from Madeleine L’Engle’s novel, received mostly weak reviews from critics and a B grade from ticket buyers in CinemaScore exit polls — results that typically do not translate to strong word of mouth.
“A Wrinkle in Time” collected an additional $6.3 million in limited release overseas (about 14 percent of the international marketplace), according to Disney. It will roll out later in March in important markets like Britain, Mexico, Australia and Brazil.
For the weekend in North America, “Strangers: Prey at Night” (Aviron), a low-budget, R-rated horror movie, arrived in third place, collecting roughly $10.5 million. Two other new wide-release movies, “The Hurricane Heist” (Entertainment Studios) and “Gringo,” an Amazon-financed movie that was distributed by STXfilms, were dead on arrival, collecting less than $3.2 million each, according to comScore.